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The growing importance of international solidarity

Julio Roberto Gomez, leader of the CGT trade union in Colombia, tells how in recent years many trade union members have been killed in his country. Trade union leaders can only go outside with security. He was a member of the advisory committee for the FARC peace process negotiators. 'After 52 years, we made peace. That was a huge step – but we're not there yet. We are still having major issues with paramilitary groups and drug cartels.'

Yet, the mood in The Hague is festive. According to the foreign partner organisations, many goals would not have been achieved without the support of CNV Internationaal. As Gomez puts it: 'People united will never be defeated.' Or: 'By organising employees, we facilitate true social and political reform.'

Social dialogue is the way to build trust

CNV Internationaal is strongly committed to promoting the importance of social dialogue between employers, employees and government. After all, dialogue is the way to build trust, sustainable development and peace.

In recent years, major investments have been made in the social dialogue in Benin, a country in which 60% of the population are illiterate and one third of the population earn less than 1.25 dollars a day. Noël Chadaré leads trade union COSI, and believes this is significant progress.'

‘'Employees were always on strike in Benin. With the support of CNV, we have learned to talk instead of strike'

In Indonesia the results were also good, says Eduard Marpaung, leader of trade union KSBSI. 'For example, we achieved the establishment of a minimum wage. But we still have a long way to go before trade unions are accepted as dialogue partners by the government.'

"By organising workers, we facilitate true social and political reform"

He believes that the big social issues in the areas of human rights, climate and social relations supersede the nation state and are impossible to solve by any government alone.

'These issues require new, global alliances and new business models with a focus on inclusiveness. These days, all companies are faced with fundamental questions: what do you stand for, what added value do you deliver, what is your justification, what are your values? It is a step forward that many companies and organisations are milling over these questions in this day and age.'

Enlightened self-interest

CNV chairman Maurice Limmen concludes that CNV Internationaal's activities are as relevant as ever after 50 years. 'The major problems we are faced with in our country don't stop at the border. Globalisation, free trade and sustainability cross borders. That is why our work abroad is no charity, it is enlightened self-interest. International solidarity never was this important.'

Welbegrepen eigenbelang

Het werk van CNV Internationaal is na 50 jaar nog heel actueel, concludeert CNV-voorzitter Maurice Limmen.‘De grote problemen waar wij in eigen land mee te maken hebben, stoppen niet bij de grens.

Globalisering, vrijhandel en duurzaamheid gaan over grenzen heen. Daarom is onze buitenlandse missie geen vorm van liefdadigheid, maar welbegrepen eigenbelang. Internationale solidariteit is belangrijker dan ooit.’

Trade union activities at home and abroad have become increasingly connected. Limmen: 'CNV Internationaal has made an important contribution to the establishment of covenants on international social corporate responsibility, for example. It is about employers, employees and consumers accepting responsibility for the entire production chain. We should want to know where our clothes are produced, and by whom.'

Publication date 06 12 2017